Categories
Thoughts

Don’t ever forget to take a minute for yourself

I’m not here to debate politics, or what’s happening in streets and cities across the country. To put it plainly: 2020 sucks. Every month, week, day, hour, there is something else happening that makes me sick to my stomach to see. Except for the SpaceX/Nasa launch over the weekend, which gave me chills to watch.

I have taught myself to tune things out with the help of technology and the privilege to write on the interwebs. But something has been happening over the last few weeks. My social media usage has dramatically dropped. Although my Twitter feed largely consists of those in the tech or sports world, everything that has been happening has taken over.

Earlier today, Daniel Bader for Android Central wrote a piece that helped put something in perspective that I have not been able to put into words myself. Take a minute for yourself. He references standing on a balcony overlooking the Las Vegas skyline, but I have found myself doing the same thing more frequently.

In fact, the image attached as the “header” for this is a picture I took just a few hours ago. It was just a moment where I needed a minute for myself while I was able to take it. Realizing the opportunity, I took the picture, put my phone back in my pocket and just looked out onto the water. It was relaxing, there was no screaming news anchors, no looking at outrageous videos that have been captured, and no hustle bustle of life. Just staring at the scene in front of me and appreciating what the moment was.

This may seem like a bunch of rambling, but if you are given the opportunity, take a minute for yourself. Whenever it presents itself, hold onto it. Then, when the world around you feels as though its crushing you, reflect back on that moment you took as your “safe zone” and find peace. Not everyone will agree, but in my opinion (for what it’s worth) you need to keep your sanity however possible.

Categories
Reviews

Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro: 30-days later

This was supposed to be written exactly 30-days after the fact, but life happens and I’ve been stuck in a fog as of late. Nonetheless, I’ve had 30-days to spend with the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, and not too much has changed from my initial impressions. For those reasons, this is going to be a bit more succinct than my first post.

Back to the weight

When the Magic Keyboard arrived, I was switching between using my iPad Pro in a Satechi stand on my desk and the Smart Keyboard Folio. Needless to say, I was living the “lightweight” iPad lifestyle, but it all changed with the Magic Keyboard. Yes, it’s heavier than the Smart Keyboard Folio, and it’s almost like carrying a laptop around, but that’s perfectly.

The combination of the iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and Magic Keyboard are still lighter than my 15-inch 2019 MacBook Pro. This makes me want to grab the iPad **first** if I need to go anywhere, instead of unplugging my laptop. In my mind, that’s exactly what Apple wants. The iPad is to be the first product (outside of your iPhone) for you to grab when it’s time to get some work done, or even if you want to kick back and watch some videos.

Trackpad and keys

As for the actual interaction and typing experience? This keyboard is amazing to type on. I have the Logitech MX Keys and (briefly) had the Extended Magic Keyboard to use with my MBP, and this keyboard is better than both of them. I’m not sure what it is, but Apple struck a balance for me between being tactile and still soft enough that it doesn’t feel like “work” to press each key.

Comfort ability is king when it comes to long typing sessions, and the Magic Keyboard certainly excels. If I could have this exact keyboard for all of my current and future computers, I would buy as many keyboard as I needed so that I would never have to be without one. That may seem a bit over dramatic, but that’s how excited I am to use this keyboard.

Moving to the trackpad, I have to admit that it is a bit small for my tastes. But that’s not exactly a bad thing, as it’s easy for me to move my pointer finger down, move the cursor, and keep typing. Gestures requiring more than two fingers definitely feel a bit cramped, especially for someone who has big hands like me, but the job still gets done.

Maybe if the palm rest was a bit bigger, then I would have more to gripe about here, but it’s still a good trackpad. Hell, it’s better than just about any Windows-based trackpad I’ve ever used, except maybe the Surface Pro 7.

What’s driving me insane

There are two points of contention with the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, both of which have been covered elsewhere. The first of these is the fact that this keyboard is an absolute fingerprint, dust, dirt, everything-magnet. It’s extremely frustrating to see my $350 keyboard folio case get so dirty so quickly.

I may just have to go down the Chris Lawley route and throw a bunch of stickers on this bad boy. But then it’s a matter of feeling bad for “personalizing” the case or just dealing with the smudges all of the time. I do have a few sticker packs lying around and a few more in my Amazon Wish List. Maybe it’s time to just pull the trigger.

The second issue that I have has to do with the Apple Pencil and I don’t know why it bothered me until now. For whatever reason, I feel like the Pencil moves quite a bit more when I’m carrying around the iPad with the Magic Keyboard attached. I’ve been holding everything in one hand and then going to put the iPad Pro down makes me accidentally release the Pencil from its magnets.

This also happens when putting the whole ensemble in either my Waterfield Designs backpack, or Incase Icon bag. Maybe I’m just using it wrong, but that doesn’t change my frustration and wish for there to be a dedicated slot in the hinge of the Magic Keyboard. See this Reddit post for what I mean.

The final verdict?

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Amazon’s return window was extended and I decided that it was time to stick to my guns and stick with the Magic Keyboard. That meant that the trusty Smart Keyboard Folio was going back, and I don’t have any regrets.

Surprisingly, the best part of using the Magic Keyboard is that I have actually been using it as a tablet more instead of leaving it “docked”. Whether it’s to sit back and do my weekly review, or catch up on some RSS feeds, the iPad Pro is more useful than ever. But I still want an 11-inch Pro as a couch device.

Categories
Link Posts

Jailbreak for all iOS 13.5 devices expected soon due to new kernel exploit – 9to5Mac

Filipe Espósito, writing for 9to5Mac

> Now, jailbreak is coming for even more devices, as unc0ver team announced today a new tool that can patch “every signed iOS version on every device.”

It has been years since I’ve even tried getting involved in the jailbreak game, but it’s extremely exciting to see that a new jailbreak could be in the works. And what makes this even better is that you don’t have to try and downgrade and worry about SHSH blogs (I don’t even remember what these are anymore), just to jailbreak.

 

The jailbreak community is something that has had some great ups and not-so-great lows, but it’s still alive and kicking. Maybe it’ll be time to jump back into the game after unc0ver 5.0 is released.

Categories
Reviews

Microsoft Surface Earbuds Impressions: This ain’t it chief

Over the last few weeks, I have been excited to get the chance to try out the new Pixel Buds 2 and have been pleasantly surprised with my experience so far. Then, Microsoft decided to drop its new lineup of Surface products, including the new Surface Go, Surface Laptop 3, Surface Headphones 2, and Surface Earbuds. Yeah, Microsoft has a lot going on as of late.

Naturally, I skipped all the other releases and put in my pre-order for the Surface Earbuds. When they were initially announced last year, I was excited, despite the odd “gauge-looking” design that Microsoft opted for. In my mind, there are only so many designs for truly wireless headphones, so I was willing to give the Earbuds the benefit of the doubt.

The box finally arrived on my doorstep, and then I proceeded to take them out to just juice them up before actually trying them. Once they hit 100%, I took them out and put them in my ears and it was jarring. I’m not sure if it’s because my ear shape is whacky or what, but these style headphones just don’t really work with my ears.

Instant regret

I am constantly worried that they are going to fall out, even when following the instructions provided both in the packaging and the app. That’s a nice addition as it gives you a tutorial of how to use the gestures, and some EQ controls. And considering the EQ settings are nowhere to be found with the Pixel Buds 2, Microsoft’s decision to add them is nice.

Back to the fit though. I know these aren’t designed to be smushed into your ear canal as far as you can get them, as is the case with other earbuds. The flat design provides “four anchor points”, according to Microsoft’s landing page for these. This, paired with the silicone ear tips aim to keep the Earbuds in your ear and not on the floor.

But no matter what ear tip I tried (Microsoft gives you three sizes to pick from), I just never felt like the Earbuds were secure. Maybe that’s the point because Microsoft is attempting to do something different in an already-saturated market. It’s just not my style.

Actual usage

I must say that right after putting the Earbuds in and starting up some music, the sound is pretty good. Unfortunately, there’s no noise cancellation on board, so there’s definitely some noticeable sound bleeding. That’s rough for someone who has the need to shut out the outside world from time to time, but they’ll be just fine over time.

By no means do I find myself to be an audiophile, but I have been able to tell a difference between these and the AirPods/Pixel Buds. They just don’t sound great. Regardless of the aforementioned EQ settings, my music still just sounds muffled. And that problem is compounded by the little bits of “outside” noise that can leak in.

It’s just frustrating. And this goes back to maybe just being my odd ears, but I started feeling some ear fatigue after 20-30 minutes of playback. That’s just not going to get the job done.

Microsoft aesthetics

From an aesthetics standpoint, these are absolutely gorgeous to look at and take pictures of. The case is sleek, despite having a glossy and plasticky look and feel. The pairing button is found on the bottom, with the USB-C charging port placed on the back.

The earbuds themselves actually look pretty cool, and they fit in perfectly with the new design aesthetic that Microsoft has moved to with its Surface line. One issue that I have with the case design is that the top flap is light and feels flimsy.

While you get a nice “click” when closing the case, it’s not something that would be recommended for those who tend to fidget with the lids. It feels as though I would have to be super careful, only to open my computer bag one day and see the lid popped off from the rest of the case, adding to my frustrations.

What’s the verdict?

As much as I wanted to add the Surface Earbuds to my arsenal of headphones, these just aren’t it. Having to force myself to use these and put them through their paces is just not an experience I want, because it means that they will just collect dust until they get misplaced or lost. I’ll be hitting up Microsoft for the return label since stores are still closed.

In the meantime, I’ll be sticking with my AirPods Pro and the Pixel Buds 2. And my excitement for the Pro may continue to grow after Comply finally ships the new foam ear tips that were put up for pre-order a couple of weeks ago.

Categories
Musings

The desire for a Mult-iPad lifestyle

As I sit here typing on my 12.9-inch iPad Pro, there’s something about the whole iPad experience that continues to elude me. While this iPad is FANTASTIC to work on, and the Magic Keyboard has improved everything, there’s still something missing.

Another iPad

What’s the problem?

Over the last few weeks, I have had a ping-pong game going on as to whether I should be using the 11-inch iPad Pro instead of the 12.9 monster. And when it comes to getting work done, that answer is a resounding no. But it’s those times where I want to sit on the couch and just review my week, check out my RSS feeds, or just mess around with it that have made me realize that the 12.9 version just isn’t suited for that.

Sure, it’s easier than ever to just grab my iPad and sit on the couch. However, trying to maneuver and position the iPad on my lap or in my hands is just an annoying experience.

Obviously, the “Mult-iPad” lifestyle is nothing new, as I’ve heard Myke Hurley and David Sparks speak about it in great detail. Even listening to some recent episodes of Adapt with Viticci and Ryan Christoffel have re-sparked my interest in a smaller iPad. But this wouldn’t really be to “get work done”, but instead would be for couch-time.

Something else that I’ve found myself enjoying comes along with my recent decision to re-download Procreate to the iPad. I saw a few tweets from Charlie Chapman, maker of Dark Noise, who shared a video of how he created the icon for his Launched podcast episodes.

Following his instructions made it really easy and fun to mess around with trying to create some new logos for this site. And it also sparked my mind to create similarly styled icons for Shortcuts that I have not yet created and added to my Home Screen. While the big screen of the 12.9 iPad is great to work and draw on, it still feels too big.

What about the iPad Mini?

Like Federico has stated before, I also have put the iPad Mini in my Apple Cart more times than I care to admit, and it currently sits there as this is written. But also like Federico, I cannot pull the trigger on an iPad Mini because of the design alone. I want ultra-slim bezels, Face ID, and the beautiful “boxy” design that is found with the iPad Pro line.

So do I try and spring for an 11-inch iPad Pro? Probably, but there’s no need to try and buy a brand-new one. And I won’t feel the need to get any accessories other than a Smart Folio, since the 12.9 will handle all of the heavy lifting.

Having something like the 11-inch iPad would be perfect to sit back, read through my Twitter and RSS feeds and chill. Will Apple update the iPad Mini with a new design? Maybe. Will Apple unveil the update before I get another iPad? Probably not.

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Link Posts

If it weren’t for ‘Oh So Orange’ I might’ve gotten this Pixel 4 color

Abner Li writing for 9to5Google

Despite how much I love the Oh So Orange Pixel 4 that I have, I would be very tempted to pick up this gray (grey?) variant. This is especially true considering that you can get the XL variant for a few hundred dollars off from various retailers right now.

But for the time being, I’ll stick with my standard Pixel 4 and it’s woefully awful battery life. Because, money and that camera is still AMAZING on the smaller phone.

Categories
Thoughts

Pixel Buds first impressions – Could these be Google’s AirPods?

When it comes to tech, I have my feet in both camps in many regards. While my primary setup includes a MacBook Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro, I also have a custom-built Windows PC along with a Pixel 4. For reasons that I cannot figure out, there’s just something about having access to all kinds of technology that makes me excited.

Along with my love for tech in general, I have a bit of an obsession with headphones. So when I saw that Google announced the Pixel Buds (2), I was instantly sold. And then the wait happened. Months passed and Google continued to hang back on releasing its new headphones.

The time finally came where Google opened up pre-orders, and I jumped at 12:01PM I placed my pre-order. Then, I had to wait for FedEx to get it together and deliver them to my doorstep.

Pairing process

Pixel Buds Setup Screen

As soon as I could, I paired them with the Pixel 4, took a few pictures, and stuck them in my ears. It’s clear that Google took a page out of Apple’s book and made the pairing process easier than ever. You don’t need to go into the Bluetooth menu, wait for the Buds to appear, and then pair them. Nope. Instead, you are greeted with a pop-up after the Pixel recognizes that these headphones are nearby.

After going through the different splash screens to enable things like Google Assistant Voice Match, you’re ready to go. This process also shows you some of the nifty gestures that you can take advantage of.

That’s right, instead of relying on buttons (Jabra Elite) or a touch-sensitive stem (AirPods), the surface of the Pixel Buds are touch sensitive. Swiping forward turns the volume up, swiping back turns it down, a double tap skips the song while a triple tap goes to the last song or starts the current song from the beginning. And a single tap can play or pause.

Decide which apps you want Spoken Notifications for

But there’s even more than that, as you now have Google Assistant in your ear. As notifications come through you are notified, and then can touch and hold on the surface to have the messages read to you. But what’s even more awesome than this is that you can go into the Pixel Buds settings and set up which apps have access to this. No, I don’t want to know when a game is bugging me, let alone to have all my emails in my ear all the time. Google did a great job with this one.

Usage and impressions

By no means is this a “scientific” test, and this was just on the first run, but here’s how the first listening session played out:

  • 3:30PM paired and started listening to music
  • Turned on Spotify and listened to a few bass-heavy playlists (more on this later)
  • Ear Fatigue started around the 3-hour mark
  • Pixel Buds officially turned themselves off at 7:52PM.

So that’s almost 4.5 hours of battery on the first listening session. The ear fatigue came and then went, and it’s important to note that I left the “medium” ear tips in. But Google does include both a large and small option in the box. I might end up trying to pick up some Comply foam tips, but these worked fine.

Pixel Buds in Notification Shade

When each bud reached 15% left, a notification popped up on the Pixel and there was a unique sound in each bud. This just lets you know that you’re getting close to the end. The “sound” also repeats at 10% and 5% remaining.

There’s more to come

I am nowhere near the point of coming to a full “conclusion” about the Pixel Buds just yet. It would be dumb to give some type of decision after just one listening session. But my early impressions are that Google really did a great job with these.

While you can’t customize the EQ, I might try and dive into the Play Store to see what I can find. Plus, I could just use Spotify to customize the EQ, but that would only work in that app. Nonetheless, there are already rumors that Google could be planning a solid update to give you “attention alerts”. We’ll see what happens, but things are looking good so far.